Our unusually strange recent weather has prompted me to speak further on the subject of weather disasters. In the last month, Earth has been convulsed by several well publicized natural calamities resulting in great loss of life and property damage. Commentators often try to explain such events, sometimes claiming they are God’s retribution. Let’s return to the Old Testament book of Job, famous for its insightful nature commentary.
The Bible is not a science textbook. But where it speaks about events in the natural realm, it is descriptively and scientifically accurate. Nature lovers rejoice at the majestic, even fearful passages in Job 36-41 in which weather events on earth are described with observational and poetic precision--thunder and lightning, mighty downpours, tempests, torrents, and frozen water bodies. These events and many others are governed by the “laws of heaven” (Job 38:33 NIV). Under this governance, earth is a dynamic and wonder-filled place. Some object to such events having a degree of dynamism sometimes resulting in discomfort, distress, or tragedy. While this is understandable, we may wonder whether such people, if granted the controlling role, would eliminate all harsh cold snaps and heat waves, windstorms, floods, earthquakes, and a variety of other events without understanding their broader place in the scheme of things. As a resident of the Midwest, I understand such desires better in the past six months, having endured this winter’s 90 inches of snow, more than 20 inches of rain flooding this area since April Fool’s day, and the relentlessly frequent tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings, not to mention the actual events. I am even cheered by our local nursery’s offering of drought-resistant plants for the summer!
Our effort to maintain proper perspective includes the following reminders. This earth (and its weather) supports the existence of 6.6 billion people. Food production and medical care have risen dramatically with man’s ability to apply biotechnology. High yielding, genetically engineered hybrids with disease, drought, insect, and spoilage resistance were barely an agriculturalist’s dream a century ago. Disasters of weather, hunger, disease, and poverty are often functions of population density, shoddy building codes, and poor location resulting from unwise planning by authorities. Humanity wants control of its destiny, but God often receives blame for the harmful results.
Tragic losses from various natural disasters sometimes strike painfully close to home. We would rather have a “perfect” world. Realistically, we could ask, “What would man’s ‘perfect’ world be like?” It is important to realize that God, the Master Designer, had a purpose for creating our world just as it exists. We do not always understand that purpose, but would our human “designer world” be better if created by man, for man?